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R&D

Labs Report 001

Design is hard… especially when it isn’t clear what fabrication methods are possible, which materials are available, and what things cost. During the concept phase of a project sub-contractors, and fabricators aren’t present to provide feasibility critiques and design recommendations. You can either pursue something known/trusted or roll the dice on something new. At this point decisions can lead to design proposals which run counter to manufacturing best practices- blowing budgets and frustrating project teams.

Out of this frustration Zahner Labs was born and aims to help. To date, our team has released three provocations focusing on material, patterning, and fabrication techniques. These product concepts are positioned as a starting point, vignettes into our process and capabilities. Our mission is to support architectural projects during the concept design phase and start projects out on the right foot.

The concept phase of any project is a volatile one. It’s difficult to know what kind of support is useful, so we are asking. With each of our product releases we collect information on the response from our ‘Design Network’ (join here) via page views, surveys, and direct consultation. Periodically, we will post a report to summarize what we’ve tried and to regroup and reflect on results.

To date:

  • Louver Surface is a material exploration and design tool that generates novel textured panels composed of articulated tabs. We also included a configurator to demonstrate the systems versatility.
    43% response from our Design Network
  • ImageLines demonstrates how simple tweaks to our image-based perforation software opens up worlds of possibility in panel systems. The included configurator explores web-based design tools. (Shoot a photo on your mobile phone and immediately render it as a façade!)
    26% response from our Design Network
  • Bead Rolling is purely a fabrication method. Process Documentation Posts are simple in premise. If designers don’t know a certain method exists, how would they ever utilize it in a design? This little-known technique offers boundless potential for custom facades, furniture, signage, etc.
    31% response from our Design Network

Zahner Labs aspires to provide clients with the information they need to make great design choices early on in projects. We’d love to get your feedback on what types of information would support your design process – join us in our mission to Innovate & Collaborate to Achieve the Incredible.

LOUVER SURFACE IN AGED COPPER—SQUARE TILE PATTERN

Louver Surface

43% Response

Louver Surface is a product prototype for a new category of perforated metal panel. A Louver Surface panel is a metal sheet, laser cut to produce an array of metal tabs and louvers. Once cut, the louvers can be robotically bent to produce custom transparency, articulation, and open-air values.

Louver Surface is an advancement on Zahner’s textured panel technique used on projects like the Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech designed by Morphosis or the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center at UT Dallas designed by Overland Partners. Unlike those projects—which were composed of a grid of tabs suspended in a frame – the entire face of Louver Surface can be articulated. Below are various levels of articulation.

IMAGELINES PANEL DETAIL PUNCHED IN GOLD INTERFERENCE COATED STAINLESS STEEL

ImageLines

26% Response

With ImageLines, perforations are positioned by an array of customizable lines/curves, while perforation size is driven by a source image (like ImageWall).  These curves or “brushstrokes” can be used to emphasize elements of the source image or respond to architectural features, building programming, wayfinding, and so much more.

Zahner’s ImageWall system has provided architects with the ability to create image based custom-perforated metal panels for many years. Now, Zahner Labs is developing an exciting twist with ImageLinesan additional customization for generating perforated images. Upload an image to our configurator and see how ImageLines takes perforated facades to the next level.

BEAD ROLLED FORMS IN COLOR SHIFTING COIL COATED ALUMINUM

Bead Rolling

31% Response

Sheet metal is available in a variety of thicknesses, but even the thickest are relatively “floppy” until formed into a shape. Like a piece of paper, sheet metals can be formed, folded, and cut into many different shapes.

Adding to a sheet’s cross section stiffens the sheet and helps maintain flatness. Bead Rolling is a ‘wheeling’ technique used to selectively emboss/deboss sheet materials to increase part rigidity. The result is a panel with material properties that are visualized through geometry – the more shape, the stronger the panel becomes. Wheeling, however, offers designers the opportunity to explore formed sheet metal parts without the costs typically associated with stamping and other metal forming techniques.

Louver Surface 3d configurator: Explore different patterns with varying degrees of opacity.
ImageLines Configurator – try our interactive editor below from your computer or mobile.
Diagram of wheeling types – a wide variety of tools are available.
EXAMPLE OF CUSTOM DUAL-LOUVER PANEL
ImageLines pattern: Luis Barragán and Ray Eames
EMBOSSED PANEL WITH OFFSET WHEEL IN COLOR SHIFTING COIL COATED ALUMINUM

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